New Tech Network Middle School Model

March 6, 2018

Our work with middle schools is a natural extension of our work with elementary and high schools throughout the country. New Tech middle schools employ the key design elements that make NTN schools successful: outcomes that matterteaching that engagesculture that empowers, and technology that enables.

Outcomes that Matter

  • Student learning is focused on a broad range of learning outcomes.
    • The NTN Learning Outcomes (knowledge & thinking, collaboration, oral and written communication, and agency) guide curriculum design instruction and feedback.
    • Students regularly reflect on their progress on the NTN Learning Outcomes, including areas of strength and areas for growth.

Teaching that Engages

  • PBL is the primary mode of instruction.  
      • Projects are standards-based and focus on a broad range of learning outcomes. Projects are often grounded in social studies and/or science standards.
      • Projects have a meaningful purpose for students and are tied to the community when possible.
      • Scaffolding within projects is developmentally appropriate and supports individual student needs. Students spend time in both heterogeneous and homogeneous groups.
  • Literacy is cross-curricular and integrated into the context of the project.
      • Literacy instruction supports content instruction and vice versa.
      • Reading and writing instruction are incorporated into the context of the project.
      • Foundational literacy skills are taught alongside the project and integrated within the project when applicable.
  •  Math is inquiry-based.
    • Learning is focused on reasoning and sense-making through open-ended math problems.
    • Students have regular opportunities to collaborate and engage in discussions about mathematical concepts.
    • Numeracy is reinforced in projects (number awareness, looking for patterns, making sense of data, interpreting graphs / diagrams); skills and concepts are connected to projects when applicable.
    • Skill development is reinforced through guided and independent practice.
  • Assessments guide student learning and instructional decisions.
    • Schools have a balanced assessment system that focuses on assessment of both basic skills and a broader range of student outcomes.
    • Projects include a range of assessments, including curriculum-embedded performance tasks and peer and self-assessments.
    • Assessment practices, such as student-led conference, portfolios, and exhibitions support student agency.

Culture that Empowers

  • The school staff engages in continuous learning and improvement.
      • Staff actively collaborate around the vision and mission of the school and use inclusive decision-making practices with key stakeholders.
      • Grade level teams work in collaboration with support staff in project design and analysis of student work to inform instructional decisions.
      • Schoolwide structures for adult learning include daily shared planning time for teams and regular staff meeting time.
  • Students engage in a collaborative learning culture centered on trust, respect, and responsibility.
    • Students actively collaborate on projects and build positive relationships with peers and staff members. Students have opportunities to work within diverse groups.
    • Students have voice and choice in their learning.
    • The school proactively supports social-emotional growth within the context of the learning.

Technology that Enables

  • Technology is a tool, not a focus.
    • Students use technology to enhance and support their learning, including using tech tools to create, communicate, collaborate, and investigate.
    • Students have a 1-1 device/student ratio and actively use NTN’s online learning platform, Echo.
    • Lower grade levels have regular access to devices to support their learning.  Often devices are used to support learners in centers and small group instruction.
    • Schools actively work to monitor screen time and ensure technology use is developmentally appropriate.